Here's how Hong Kong students think the Youth Development Commission can actually serve young people of our city

YP ReporterHeidi Yeung

A survey finds the government’s new youth body is not very popular with young people themselves

YP ReporterHeidi Yeung |

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Lawmaker Shiu Ka-chun says more genuine engagement is needed.

A concern group has slammed the recently announced Youth Development Commission as not representative of the voices of young people in Hong Kong after conducting a survey which put youth satisfaction with the government at 2.3 out of 10.

The survey, which was conducted by the Youth Policy Advocators concern group, found that 77 per cent of surveyed youth believe that there are not enough channels to make their voice heard, while over 90 per cent of respondents said there was a pressing need for youth-oriented policies in Hong Kong.

Singled out for particular criticism was the Youth Development Commission, which recently published its member list. Of the 34 members, only three have come from the “self-recommendation scheme”. The scheme, which was launched “to provide more opportunities for young people to participate in policy discussion”, yielded only three new members to the commission.

Additionally, the survey revealed that 70 per cent of respondents didn’t understand the self-recommendation scheme, which, if true, does not support the government’s claim that the commission will “reflect [young people’s] views in full”. Seventy per cent of respondents called for a higher proportion of young people on the commission, if not the outright ability to vote for representation.

Naomi Ho Sze-wai, a spokeswoman for the concern group, called for “one person, one vote” for members of the commission. The majority of the members are picked by a government panel, not by direct vote. She claimed that at least 34 per cent of the commission was comprised of scions of rich families, and that this was further proof the commission didn’t reflect the true views of Hong Kong youth.

Shiu Ka-chun, Legco councillor for the social work functional constituency, said that the majority of dissatisfied people are young and well-educated, and cited a need for genuine engagement instead of symbolic participation.

“Although there is more varied membership this time around, there is a declining number of more outspoken voices,” he said. “Although the commission hasn’t started working yet, I can already see a pattern of engagement with young people in name only.”

On the other hand, there definitely seems to be young people in Hong Kong who are keen to contribute to the future of Hong Kong.

Taylor Lam, 18, of Tang King Po School suggests allowing young people, such as university students, onto boards in congress during discussions on policies that affect the youth. Also, to hold seminars at universities and secondary schools to help students better understand the city's policies.

"This will not only allow teenagers the opportunity to get involved, it will also raise their awareness for public policies," Taylor explained. "The government can also have an open platform on social media, like Facebook or Instagram, where teenagers can articulate their opinions on policies."

Wong Wing-yan, 14, of The Hong Kong Management Association K S Lo College agrees with Taylor on both those suggestions, and stresses that it's also very important that the government not only hears what the city's young people have to say, but to actually listen.

"During 2014's Umbrella Revolution, although Carrie Lam met with Joshua Wong and the other activists to hear what they had to say, she ignored them," Wing-yan says. "I think the government should not only hear but to pay attention to young people's points of view, and try to design policies for them after listening."

Perhaps one way the government can listen to the youth is to hold regular forums.

"The government should have TV programmes, like a forum, that government officials and students from different schools regularly attend," suggests Lawrence Yau, 17, of Hong Kong and Kowloon Chiu Chow Public Association Secondary School. "This will not only allow the general public to hear more voices from the younger generation, but government officials will also know more about our needs and concerns."

Edited by Pete Spurrier